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Question Regarding Tuning
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clc8710
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December 11, 2016 - 12:00 pm
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SHello!

I'm attempting to learn to play the violin by teaching myself, and I'm currently working on tuning new strings.  I purchased a Snark ST-8HZ Tuner, and I'm using D'Addario Prelude strings, as well as a Fretless Finger Guide.

Tuning has proved to be quite a challenge.  The strings are having trouble staying tuned, but I'm assuming that this may be a peg issue?  I'm working on fixing that, but here's my main problem, and it occurs on each string:

Using the fourth string as an example, I use the Snark tuner and tune it to G.  The light is green and in the center.  Now I play C on that string, using the Fretless Finger Guide, and the tuner tells me that it's C#.  Sometimes it tells me the note is off only slightly (sharp or flat); sometimes it tells me it's way off (D when it should be C, etc.)  Meanwhile, after checking again, G is still perfectly tuned, according to the Snark.

Could someone please tell me what I'm doing wrong?

Thank you for any advice.

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BillyG
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December 11, 2016 - 12:27 pm
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Hello and WELCOME @clc8710 

If the G is still perfectly tuned, then, it is without doubt your fingering - or a combination of that and the fretless - finger - guide.   I assume the finger-guide is for a 4/4 size violin, and that indeed is what you have it fitted to ?

If you are wholly new to the violin, or any fretless instrument - that is not unusual.  But - if the truth be known - to play EXACTLY on-pitch is to be correct to within probably fractions of a mm.   Even a different "down-pressure" on the finger can "squash" the tip of your finger enough to noticeably shift the pitch.

The other thing to keep in mind is that most of us normal mortals won;t really notice a note that is "out" by up to 20 or 24 cents - there are 100 "cents" in a semi-tone.  We ( well most of us without "perfect pitch" ) will never know the difference.

I suspect that all the Snark is doing is giving you the "closest round semitone" to what it "hears"....  so what I'm saying is that - sure - regardless of how "well" you may think you are placing your finger - your're not quite on-the-spot - or - your fingering is "changing" from time to time - are you maybe coming in at an angle to the string sometimes ?  Try to be very precise and repeatable in the approach of the finger to the string and land the finger curved, but with the tip vertical to the string ( 90 degrees - I know - it gets more difficult come fingers 3 or 4 )

It also will depend to some extent on just how "pure and consistent" a note you draw from the instrument.  Any dragging, scratching, squeaking etc WILL upset the device.

I have never used the finger guide - although of course I appreciate it is helpful to many people - one thing I would do is use your ear - play a scale - and ignore the tuner for a bit....   I'll BET you can tell when it is OK, and wen it is not....  (or part of a scale - G, A, B, C then open D  ( like do, re, mi, fa, sol ) - repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, ignoring the tuner, until you get it right to your ear - and when you get it right - you'll know....  THEN go back and check with the Snark - I'm sure it'll be better !!!

EDIT : Oh - ignore the finger guide as well - just try this using your ear....

Good luck with your violin journey !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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damfino
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December 11, 2016 - 2:16 pm
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The Fretless Finger guides are just that, an imperfect guide. The fingering on each violin is going to be ever so slightly different, so where the guide tells you the note will be, will in reality be in a slightly different spot.

Use the guide as a suggestion to help you get to the right mark.

I bought one of those in the beginning, but shipping took over a week, and I didn't need it anymore by the time it arrived. I brought it to my first lesson anyway, in case my teacher wanted me to use it, and she told me basically what I told you. (I threw it back in my case and never bothered with it.)

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Fiddlerman
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December 12, 2016 - 10:41 am
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Welcome to the forum clc8710,

Guides are great if you don't become too dependent on them. It's nice to be able to get rid of them later. You can play a lot freer if you don't have to look at the fingerboard all the time.
Like typing without having to find each and every letter.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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clc8710
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December 12, 2016 - 3:34 pm
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Yes, it is for, and fitted to, a 4/4 violin.

Thank you all very much for your replies; I appreciate the advice!

Removing the guide was the solution.

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coolpinkone
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December 12, 2016 - 3:49 pm
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Hello and welcome to the forum.

How wonderful that you are teaching yourself to play the violin. I will tell my story....(long.... yawn)

I know that many play by ear.  That is also what I learned in the forum here back in the day.

I was not making very good progress on my own using my ears, and I too got a fretless guide.  It helped me in the beginning, the first months.  

I did take a few lessons the first year and my teacher using the Essential Elements book did also put two tapes on my violin. First and second finger.  F# and C#.  There seemed to be controversy about that but I see the wisdom in that while using the Essential Elements books.

I didn't take more than 10 lessons or so, but I was reliant on those tapes for quite sometime.  After two years I had to go cold turkey and take them off.  I was bummed to see how reliant I was on them.  It took a good 2-3 months to figure it out and I have been tape free for a long time now.  I never ever practice without a tuner.  I don't use it constantly but I use it at the beginning of every song I start to play to see where I am off and make adjustments.  

I am playing enough and listening to enough music that I am learning to hear the wrong notes. In the beginning I couldn't hear the wrong notes in music that I have never heard before.   

So that is my story.  I say use whatever it takes to learn.  I had zero musical information coming into playing, I couldn't read music, or bow, or play a note.  The guides helped me a bit while learning to read music and I am very glad I used them.    

My opinion on violin is this, I'd rather hear someone play slow and in tune than out of tune and be quick and zazzy (is that a word)?

At the end of the day, load up those FM tutorials and your guides and your tuner and go to town.  Mostly have fun fun fun.... practice and practice and you will do wonderful.

Welcome welcome.... sorry if I didn't answer your question.  I think BillyG had good thoughts on that. When I use the fret guides I make sure I tune and line up with a note with a finger down.  And as Bill said, just scoootch that finger down a bit and get that C note you are looking for...You will get it.   I recall a member here one time saying that is how he got a taste of vibrato was wiggling their finger a bit to get the right note when playing with a tuner.

Cheers and Cheers.

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Demoiselle
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December 12, 2016 - 4:06 pm
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New strings are not stable in tuning for some time. I use Obligato strings which are amazingly stable, but the first day is always a struggle. For a couple days you still have to correct the tuning several times each day. It slowly gets better and after a week I just have to tune them once a day. My Obligatos are perfectly stable after about 3 weeks. They're so stable then, that I often don't have to tune for days! I just check all strings and they're still perfect.

I buy a new set of strings about 3 weeks before an important concert to have a reliable set of strings then.

To forewarn you, same goes for freshly rehaired bows! It takes some time until they adhere and keep rosin. You have to use rosin more often on a freshly rehaired bow until it works perfectly. A thing that really made me desperate the first time, because I'm also self-taught and had no clue.

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stet
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December 12, 2016 - 5:46 pm
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clc8710 said

Tuning has proved to be quite a challenge.  The strings are having trouble staying tuned, but I'm assuming that this may be a peg issue?

The pegs of the violin are conically shaped and they keep the tuning better if I push them inwards while tuning the strings. But I don't push them too hard while turning, because I don't want to break the strings, especially if they are metallic. Synthetic strings are more flexible than metallic strings.

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Demoiselle
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December 13, 2016 - 11:39 am
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I just read it over again, pegs will be tighter later anyway. But I doubt this is really the problem. He talks about "fretless fingerguide" and I'm not sure what he means. If the open G is tuned correctly, violin and tuner are always right and he has chosen the wrong spot to play a C.

In case "fretless fingerguide" means the "First Frets/ Don't Fret" sticker,  the sticker was possibly fixed the wrong way. If you read the description carefully, you also have to shift the bridge a wee bit, otherwise the mathematical balance on the fingerboard will not work anymore. Yes, in this case you cannot play a clean scale anymore and a C might be somewhere else.

So what is "fretless fingerguide"? Is that the exact term? Never heard of that.

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Demoiselle
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December 13, 2016 - 11:47 am
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@clc8710      Frankly, I doubt it is a peg problem. You are suspecting the pegs, but I think it is nothing but a string issue. As I said before, new strings are not stable and you have to retune again and again. The first day is like a spoiled practice hour for this problem will interrupt your playing all the time. Which is NORMAL.

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MACJR
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Demoiselle said

So what is "fretless fingerguide"? Is that the exact term? Never heard of that.  

The Fretless Fingerguide is a non-stick wrap-around clear plastic sheet with violin notes printed on it.

I used one for a while, but switched to basic tape and like that better.

One thing I noticed about the Fretless Fingerguide is that some of the notes were slightly off from where they are printed on the guide. This was especially noticeable on the E string when I had it tuned to the wrong E (E3 rather than E4). Getting the E string to the right octave put the notes on the E string closer to where they are shown on the Fretless Fingerguide, but they were still not exact matches in all cases.

You can still use the guide, just know where the correct note is and put your finger there instead.

I switched to tape because it is easier to see at a glance, and there is a tactile sensation as well, so I can rely less on vision and more on feel, thus letting me focus on the sheet music rather than my fingers and the fingerboard.

I hope to not need tape in the near future, but for now, it still helps.

MACJR

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Demoiselle
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December 18, 2016 - 8:29 pm
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I started on violin on May 2, 2015 and took the tape with those frets off in February 2016.

Yes, some of those fret-like lines were not exactly where the correct notes are, but it was a big help nonetheless. I learned it very soon, that I had to hit a bit in front of or behind it. Without that tape it had been a terrible mess. It's really not funny if you totally miss almost all the time.

I can now finger blindly on the fingerboard, but decided to allow myself to watch the fingerboard. I'm mostly interested in what happens there and learn how to do better. That's why I feel like watching. The plugs can also be waymarks and I've learned to understand how to set my fingers around them--kind of like ironsights.

A year ago I was downright anxiously staring at the fingerboard, now it's a way more relaxed watching. Before I played myself warm, I easily miss the correct spots because my fingers are are still a bit clumsy. So  that's when I more often scold myself like, "It's THERE, a bit behind the plug!"

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MACJR
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December 18, 2016 - 11:37 pm
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Demoiselle said
I started on violin on May 2, 2015 and took the tape with those frets off in February 2016.

Yes, some of those fret-like lines were not exactly where the correct notes are, but it was a big help nonetheless. I learned it very soon, that I had to hit a bit in front of or behind it. Without that tape it had been a terrible mess. It's really not funny if you totally miss almost all the time.

I can now finger blindly on the fingerboard, but decided to allow myself to watch the fingerboard. I'm mostly interested in what happens there and learn how to do better. That's why I feel like watching. The plugs can also be waymarks and I've learned to understand how to set my fingers around them--kind of like ironsights.

A year ago I was downright anxiously staring at the fingerboard, now it's a way more relaxed watching. Before I played myself warm, I easily miss the correct spots because my fingers are are still a bit clumsy. So  that's when I more often scold myself like, "It's THERE, a bit behind the plug!"  

The Fretless Fingerguide uses colored dots with note letters in the dots. It was handy, to a point, but it was hard to see the dots while playing, without holding both the violin and my head at off angles. Still, it was a valuable learning tool at first.

Tape works better for me now, but I am already getting to a point to where I do not need to look at the tape marks all the time. I still need to get better at note recognition though, so I will know when I miss the note when I am not looking where my fingers are going.

I am still refining my fingering and bowing skills, and it is likely to be a while yet before I get good at them. Still, I feel that I am making good progress. I do hope to be a much better player by this time next year.

By the way, you started playing the violin on my 53rd birthday.  😉

MACJR

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Demoiselle
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December 19, 2016 - 4:53 am
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MACJR said

........

By the way, you started playing the violin on my 53rd birthday.  😉
MACJR  

And I was even a few years older than 53, so we both started at about the same age. Which does NOT prevent me from having big ideas!

False notes hurt and that pain is the best indicator to prevent them. So, whenever it hurts, I look at the fingerboard to see where my finger is and how many millimeters I've missed. I find that information very important to correct myself.

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clc8710
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December 20, 2016 - 8:51 am
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Thank you all very much for your replies.  I really appreciate the advice.

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Demoiselle
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Sorry, I messed up...

clc8710 said
SHello!

I'm attempting to learn to play the violin by teaching myself...............

with...

MACJR said

The Fretless Fingerguide uses colored dots with note letters in the dots. It was handy, to a point, but.......

 ...and now I learn these are two different person. 😉

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BillyG
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December 20, 2016 - 12:22 pm
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LOLOL @Demoiselle - hahaha - I do that ALL the time !!!!!    

I often forget if I'm responding here, or on FaceBook or YouTube or StreetJelly - I'm just a lost boy !

Oh - and - lots of Xmas joy to you and yours !  christmaswreathchristmascandle

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Demoiselle
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BillyG said
LOLOL @Demoiselle - hahaha - I do that ALL the time !!!!!    

I often forget if I'm responding here, or on FaceBook or YouTube or StreetJelly - I'm just a lost boy !

Oh - and - lots of Xmas joy to you and yours !  christmaswreathchristmascandle  

When I was a kid our neighbors were were all the time like, "Why is she never greeting?" My parents were like, "Well, she cannot recognize faces." I do recognize neighbors in our staircase, but out on the street they look like perfect strangers to me. So I'm still having these issues and sometimes I really greet strangers because I assume they could be neighbors.

Wish you a very romantic Advent and Christmas. I musically like Advent very much.

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MACJR
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Demoiselle said

When I was a kid our neighbors were were all the time like, "Why is she never greeting?" My parents were like, "Well, she cannot recognize faces." I do recognize neighbors in our staircase, but out on the street they look like perfect strangers to me. So I'm still having these issues and sometimes I really greet strangers because I assume they could be neighbors.

Wish you a very romantic Advent and Christmas. I musically like Advent very much.  

I am usually fairly good at facial recognition... but my problem was, when I was younger, we moved quite often. Sometimes three or four times in a school year, and then a few more times in the summer.

After a time, I had seen so many people, at so many places, that many similar looking people became a blur to me. "Is that the person I knew from here, or there, or somewhere else?" Or is that just someone who looks like someone I knew here, there, or somewhere else?

I would have someone start talking to me, and think I knew who I was talking to, only to find out that it was someone else. Which sometimes was a bit awkward, if I was asking about his wife, when he was with some other woman... and this guy had never married. Oops.

Moving on.  😉

MACJR

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